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Book TV In Depth

Kenneth Davis Education. (2012) In depth with Kenneth Davis.

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Columbus 26, Washington 26, America 15, Kenneth Davis 14, Us 12, Mr. Davis 9, Florida 8, New York 6, Adams 5, Andrew Johnson 5, Philadelphia 5, Jefferson 4, Virginia 4, California 4, Thomas Jefferson 3, Margie 3, Jackson 3, Henry Clay 3, John Adams 3, Alexander Hamilton 3,
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  CSPAN    Book TV In Depth    Kenneth Davis  Education.   
   (2012) In depth with Kenneth Davis.  

    November 5, 2012
    12:00 - 3:00am EST  

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do it. >> how far away is that? >> we are pretty far off. maybe it is not that hard. but without model talk about atomic assembly. atomic assembly.
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we also remind everybody that copies of his new book are on sale in the lobby and he will be pleased to sign them in the lobby immediately following the program. we appreciate you allowing him to make it to the signing table. this meeting of the commonwealth club of california is adjourned. [applause] >> tell us what you think about our programming this weekend. tweet us, comment on our facebook wall or send us an e-mail. booktv, nonfiction books on c-span2. >> the same course we have been
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on will not lead to a better destination. the same path we're on means $20 trillion of debt. means tripling unemployment stagnant take home pay. depressed home values, devastated military, and unless we change course we may be looking at another recession. so, the question of this election comes down to this. do you want more of the same or do you want real change? >> we know what change looks like, and what governor romney: is selling ain't it. giving more power the biggest banks isn't change. another $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy is not change. refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies until after the election, definitely not change.
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>> changing the facts when they're inconvenient to your campaign, not change. >> tuesday night, watch live election coverage on c-span2 with president obama from chicago, and mitt romney in boston, plus key house and senate victory and concession speeches from across the country, and throughout the night, your reaction by phone, e-mail, facebook and twitter. live coverage starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. >> up next, author and lecturer kenneth defense. the acclaimed author about the "don't know much about" source, talks about michiganology, geography and more. he has written 12 adult nonfiction books, including america's hidden history, a nation rising, and don't know much about the american presidents.
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>> host: where did the "don't know much about" series come from? >> guest: the idea came from my own little brain, although it didn't start out as a series. it started out with the idea i loved american history. i wanted to write about it in a way that shared my enthusiasm for a subject that i've loved since i was small child. the title came, of course, from sam cook's wonderful song, which i knew from childhood, and so it got stuck in my head, and certainly the success of the book, which caught me by surprise more than anyone else, perhaps, led to the beginning of a series. geography followed, and then on and on it went from there. so, with no pretensions offing writing this book simply because i loved american history. i couldn't understand why people
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were poured by it, why we had surveys that said 17-year-olds don't know their american history, and i wanted to write something i thought would address that problem. >> host: in 1991 you published your first one, don't know much about history. everything you need to know about american history but never learned. in that book you write: i like to consider a "don't know much about" book the first word on the subject rather than the last. >> guest: i see myself as somebody who brings together a lot of really interesting information that exists out there. it's not that i'm a ground-breaking researcher who finds the uncovered story. i think that most of these stories exist. unfortunately they don't find their way into our textbooks, schoolbooks, certainly not into the mass media or hollywood, which is where most people get a lot of their impressions of history. so i wanted to be a person that asks and then answers questions, and the "don't know much about"
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series is written in a question and answer format, and be able to see, what does the declaration of independence declare? what is the may flower compact, answer it in a few short paragraphs or pages, but also direct people on to where they can read more about this. so, i see myself in a way as an educator. many people say, did you always plan to be a write center the fact its, no, i didn't. if i thought anything when i was in high school and certainly conditional, -- college, that i would be a teacher. so i see my role as starting a bigger conversation about history, and sharing my own enthusiasm and interest for history because it does have so much to do wife we are as a people today, what's -- certainly what's going on in the country, and when you see history, not just as a long list of dates and battles and speeches, which unfortunately how way too many people see it -- it becomes more
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interesting and we connect the history to the headlines, the past to the present, and that's the real reason for understanding history in the first place. >> host: in an updated version of your don't know much about history book you write history is really about the consequences of our actions large and small, and that has never been more apparent than the aftermath of the terror attacks on september 11, 2001. if the terror attacks have not changed anything elseful they certainly changed americans are appreciation of the past and what it has to do with the present. what does that mean? >> guest: i'd like to think that's true and i think it's true. so many people wanted to know, first of all, was there anything else like that's in our history? and in fact there have been 9/11 moments throughout our history. i point to a few of enemy my book. there was a moment in the 19th 19th century called dade's massacre, in the early 1830s.
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it was the complete obliteration of a small troop of men, army soldiers, marching from one place toot in florida, which was like the far side of the moon to most americans at that time. and what that did was set in motion a moment that led too a war against the seminole indians. one of the overlooked moments in our past, which is something else i always tried to do. tell the stories that the textbooks leave out. most americans had never heard of the longest, most costly war in american history, until vietnam, which was the seminole war fought in florida, so that was as gripping and astan issuing to people of that time as 9/11 was to us. pearl harbor was again. so each generation has had one of these moments, and we do forget that we've been through this before. obviously we're going through it right now in a sense.
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i'm a new yorker. i'm here in new york, and we are living through this extraordinary moment, and i just want to say briefly, thank you, to the people who are expressing such concern and care for new york and this region. we have a long way to go, and a lot to do. in fact on my way into the studio this more than i was remembering thomas jefferson's words when hi was inaugurated, we're all federalists, we're all democrats, or all republicans, and he was speaking to this moment when there was such division in the country, and this is why history can be so instructive. he was peeking to this moment in 1801 when they had just come through a very, very mean and controversial election that was decided in the house of representatives, and he wanted to speak to this idea that we were all americans again, and certainly that's kind of the way i wish we would feel after the storm and the aftermath of that.
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so, we can learn from these moments. americans are very good at coming together. doesn't feel that way right now. in the midst of this election but we also have this extraordinary moment where we had a crisis and a moment of division butting heads against each other, and i'm hopeful that we can learn from our history and see that americans do respond to a crisis like this. >> host: as kenneth davis alluded to, the reason he is in new york and booktv is back here in washington, dc is because of sandy. we had some studio issues, so a little patched together for this "in depth." mr. davis, your most recent "don't know much about" book is don't know much about the american presidents. you talk about a couple of elections. i want to look at the election of 1800 and then the election of james k. polk versus henry clay, and you talk about how vicious they were. is today's election, the turn
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one we're in, vicious compared to the ones we talk about? >> guest: actually, no. it's probably more gentle by comparison if you look another some of the things said. for instance, going back even further to 1796, the first contested election, when john adams and thomas jefferson, the compatriots 20 years earlier who combined to bring the declaration of independence into being were now fierce political rivals. they maintained a friendship of sorts as jefferson served as adams' vice president, which was the result of the way presidents and vice presidents were elected back then. something that changed soon after. jefferson and adams had begun to form what were the beginnings of the two political parties, adams, a federalist, along with
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alexander hamilton, who was no great friend or ally of john adams, and jefferson on the other side of what was then known as the democratic republican, and that's why alluded to the fact that jefferson said, we are all federalists, we're all republicans, trying to bridge the separation. so, that election had begun with complaints that adams was a mono this. there were newspapers of the day, the aurora, the most famous in philadelphia, published by benjamin franklin's grandson that called adams an overweight, corrupt monarchist. he was accused of sending his vice presidentol candidate thomas pickerring to get young girls. adams replied he at any time know what happened to his two, pickerring must have kept all four for himself. jefferson was described as a
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jack-a-bins, who favored the french revolution and what was going on. they said if jefferson was elected there would be blood in the streets and rape would be taught in all the schools. this was the tenor of the time. obviously back then, they did not have 24/7 news station, they did not have twitter and facebook to feed this friend sis, but it was still the frenzy of the day. 1824, another tremendous example of a vicious, vicious election. john quincy adams versus andrew jackson. andrew jackson was accused of being an adulterer and big mist because of a quirk in his divorce proceedings of his wife, rachel, from her first marriage. but something that was circulated around the whole country, called the coffin hand bill. it was a pamphlet, that was posted throughout the country, showing coffins. these were the men that andrew
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jackson had supposedly kill, either as a general or ordering the execution or through duels. so being called a big amist and an adult tress and a murder, is what was going on. we like to think about gentlemen and powdered wigs but politics has always been a nasty business and a sharp knife business from the beginning. >> host: how has the power of the presidency changed over 44 different presidents? >> guest: well, you know, sent out in don't know much about american presidents to set out why the with ha president. 225 years ago we just celebrated constitution day a few months ago -- celebrating the adoption of the constitution as it was written in philadelphia before it was ratified, and one of the things these men fought over, over that long, hot summer that
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they were closeted in philadelphia, locked doors and closed windows, by the way. they did not want anybody knowing what they were talking about. the thing they thought about most was the power of the presidency and the office of the presidency. these were men who feared more than anything else the acquisition of tremendous power by one man in charge of an army. they said from the very first day, benjamin franklin says we know the first man at the helm will be a good one and everybody in the room know who he is talking about, george washington was sitting there, it was clear he would be the first president, and after that he said we'll be on the road to an elected monarchy. they were students of history. they knew the history of most republics and they ended badly, often with a dictator coming along. so that was the thing they feared most. one man accruing such power. on the other hand they knew they needed somebody who could act with what alexander hamilton
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wrote in one of the federalist papers, vigor, and he meant energy, dispatch, secrecy, someone who could respond to a crisis. at the time when there was a congratulations, the constitution -- the articles of confederation, that congress under the articles meant there was a lot of debate and a lot of dithering but nobody to take charge. they knew they needed both but were also very concerned with the separation of power. i think it's fair to say that in the course of that 225 years since then, since they kind of invented or perhaps improvised the presidency is a better word -- that there's been a tremendous change in the office. obviously every president from washington on has taken certain powers for himself. sometimes congress has resisted. the pendulum has swung back and forth. we could go down the list, executive orders, signing
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statements, the war powers, all of these things were far, far beyond, i think, what most of the founders would have envisioned, but that's the way the democracy and the republic has evolved over these 225 years. >> host: in your career have you ever been a teacher at all? >> guest: no, i haven't. somebody called me professor on tv recently, and i was about to say, well, i'm not a professor, i just play one on tv. but the fact is, i feel that my book is an extended classroom, and i feel very comfortable as a teacher and i suppose if i hadn't discovered i liked to write and could make a living, which i discovered late in life, i probably would have ended up in front of a classroom. but i see my role as -- i'm not here to necessarily tell everybody what is right or who is right or what situation is right. but really to serve as more of a
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stimulant to the conversation as we mentioned earlier. and that's what i hope my books do. and that's why i've tried to always write in a very accessible style. i know there are many wonderful academic writers out there, some of them do right the textbooks used in schools. unfortunately they tend to write for each other rather than the rest of us. rather than certainly the students in the classroom, and that's what i see my role as, if i can think of it as a teacher. getting people to explore the questions they might have and might be afraid to ask. pointing them in the right directions of what i think are accurate and useful information. and then hoping they move on from there, and all of my books, from don't know much about history on to don't know much about american presidents, all contain lists of must-read books, other books i thing are
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significant, and lock lists of books i've used in terms terms f doing reference and research. >> host: you're watching and listening to booktv on c-span 2. this is our monthlily in-depth program. we invite an author on to talk about his work and this month it's ken knight davis author and historian. here's a list of his books, beginning in 1984 with "two bit culture. the paperbacking of america." the "don't know much about" started in 1991. history was the first. geography came out in 1992. civil war, 1996. bible, 1999. universe in 2009. mythology in 2005, don't know much about anything came out in 2007. "don't know much about" about anything else, came out in 2008. america's hidden history in 2009.
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a nation rising in 2010. two books off the "don't know much about" series, and returns with the don't know much about the american presidents, which is a brand new book out this year. i want to go to your second "don't know much about," and that's geography. mr. davis, who discovered america? >> guest: well, peter, i have to interrupt for just a moment. you left one book off the list and it's understandable. i did bring it with me. we like to have primary sources. this is my project about presidents. written when i was in third grade at the william h. home school in mt. vernon, new york. mt. vernon, of course, named for washington's famous plan addition but that had nothing to do with my interest in presidents. so this came out 49 years ago and it's fascinating to me because i found this in my mom's attic, cleaning up, and i opened it up. you can see why i became a writer and not an artist when you look at the --
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>> host: if you could hold it up again please no any pleasure. one can see why i'm a writer and not an illustrator. i opened it up and the very first page, the inside page says: did you know, so here i was as nine years of age asking questions and answering them about presidents. so, obviously, i've been interested in this stuff for a very, very long time, and just to briefly explain that, i think my fascination with history going back more than 50 years now, really had to do with the fact that -- not that i was born in mt. vernon, place named for washington's plantation but the fact that i was very fortunate, my parents thought good idea for summer vacation was to throw us in the car with an old army surplus tent and sleeping bags and we went off to places like valley forge and gettysburg and ft. tie in new york.
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so history is something that happens in real places. not something that happens in books. not a long list of dates and battles and legislation and court decisions we remember for the s.a.t. or the a.p. exam and forget a week later. that's the sense always had about this subject, and the other thing i keep on my desk is this. just hold this up as well as you can see it. this is a wooden toy gun that i got as my souvenir of that trip to gettysburg, also in 1963. it was, of course, the centennial of the battle that year, and i remember being in that field as a nine-year-old, and having this sense that something extraordinary had happened in this place, even though i didn't quite understand the issues, and perhaps had a somewhat rowe romantic notion of what war was all about back then.
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i knew that something happened, and i was struck watching c-span recently by something that a wonderful historian named howard coffin mentioned. he said that joshua chamberlain. one of the heroes, used the phrase, something abides, and that rung home with me because i had this experience as a nine-year-old, and for me something did abide in that place. so that's why i've had this passion about this subject for so long, and i feel it's so important, and so when you ask me about geography and history, obviously they go together in my mind, one cannot understand history without understanding geography, even in an age of google map. but if you don't understand the connection between places and why things happen, it's as basic as that. so, when i finished the don't know much about history, and it came out and had this wonderful and surprising success, it
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occurred to me, well, the thing that americans don't know much about even worse than history, perhaps, is geography, and this is at a time they were telling us that students couldn't point to a map and say where the atlantic ocean was. americans have always had a difficulty understanding america's place in connection to the rest of the world, and even american geography. also, something i couldn't understand because on the same carships i was talking about, the same vacations, i would sit in the back seat with a map on my lap, and i remember very clearly, i would trace the exact route of where we went. i don't know why that is but that's where my inclination was. so i was always interested in this subject, and always felt that the thread that connects history to geography is something that needs to be explored, and so that's why i moved on to that subject. and each of my books i'd have to say in the series has come about
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in the same way. after i win from history to geography, i talked about important battles, and realized that the civil war was still the most important event in our history. most mythologized and the most misunderstood. so i went back to that. reading about the civil war i discovered it was the first time in american history that people used the bible to determine their sides, their views on an issue, a political issue, and that was slavery, and that led me to about the bible, subject i had also been interested in from childhood. so i wanted to again go back to these subjects that have so much impact on our lives today, and find the threads that connect in between them. so, who did discover america? well, i wrote that book just around the time of the 500th 500th anniversary of columbus'
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trip. so, it certainly discusses columbus and his role in the discovery of america. you can't discover place where perhaps as many as 100 million people already live. one story about columbus and geography if i can, though. one of the things i love to do is the research, to go into the library, to look for the books, because it's always the unexpected discovery, the eureka moment, that i love so much. i remember going into find a book about columbus, a biography, and three books down on the same shelf there was the log books of cliff columbus. my goodness. nobody told me in junior high school that christopher columbus kept a log book of his voyages and wrote letters about his voyages. so i pulled that out just an unexpected discovery, and started to read it. and i was enthralled. here was columbus describing his voyages, describing his discoveries in his own words,
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and of course they are his words, so we have to remember that people write about themselves with a certain degree of prejudice, but it was one thing more than anything else caught me in the log becomes -- log books. on his third voyage he was off the coast of south america. he thought he was off the coast of china. he sees a great river rushing into the ocean. we awe know it's the oronoco river. columbus writes this is one of the rivers mentioned in the book of genesis. if you read that you must realize he thought -- columbus thought he found the garden of eden. one of the four rivers mentioned in the book of genesis. that was rather extraordinary to me, the idea that columbus thought he found the garden of eden, which at that time, in the late 1490s, was understandable, people thought the garden of eden was a appraisal and might be off the
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coast of champion somewhere. columbus then goes on to write, this made me realize that the water coming from a very high place, and i began to think that the world is not a spherical but pear shaped. and i stopped right there and said, wait a minute. they told us that columbus sailed to prove the world is round, and here in his own words he is saying, the word is pear-shaped. he then goes on to say the high point on the earth where the water is coming down is like a woman's breast, and this high place is like a nimble. highest and closest to heaven. theydefinitely didn't tell me that in seven grade. but perhaps a sailor too long at search. but when you read history or geography and you get it in the sense of the people who lived through it and this is one of the things i do, is include historic voices, american voices, voices of geography,
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voices of the president. it becomes alive, becomes human, becomes meaningful. it's not just that long list of dates and battles and speeches. so, indeed, columbus started an era of discovery and exploration that transformed the whole world, but it's difficult to say he had discovered a place where there were probably already at least 100 million people living. >> host: you've been listening to author kenneth davis. he is our guest. we're going to put the numbers on the screen if you want to participate with him. >> you --
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>> you can also, of course, send us an e-mail at book booktv at c-span2.org. >> kenneth davis, do american families still make those car trips to historic places that you were all referring to? >> guest: yes, they do. really been pleased to learn over the years -- and i've been doing this a little more than 20 years -- i hear from so many people who say we read your book when we were on the family car trip to gettysburg or listened to it on tape. the books are available as audios as well. and so that's been a wonderful thing for me to hear as a writer. the idea that people use my books as a family, because the only way i think that we really get to understand history is if we have a conversation about it around the dinner table. it's one of the reason is start
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evidence writing children's books, and i heard from parent whose say the kids and i -- we talk about the presidents that way. i read the adult version and they read the kids' version. so i think we have to have this conversation around the dipper table -- dinner table around history, and during an election is a perfect time to do it. i always thought, when people say to me how do i get my kid interested, and teachers ask me that as well, and they often say, how die get the kids more interested in history? the answer is simple. it's a field trips. road trips, and i know people think that and hear that and they think brown bags and yellow buses. but there is nothing that replaces the sensation of being in a historic place, seeing it, feeling it, touching it. sometimes even smelling it. and that's what provides us the real sense that this is
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something that happened to real people. forgive me. i keep losing my -- >> host: we'll let you get that adjusted. and i want to read this quote from your don't know much about mythology book. you write: one of the saddest things i have witnessed in these years-especially when it visit schools, is how the innate and insatiable curiosity young children have about the world gets absolutely killed by the teedum of school. i also remember so well how myths saved one little boy from that teedum. >> guest: true story. i remember being a child sitting in school, watching -- we had that clock on the wall, and i would watch it tick toward 4:00, and one of the times i felt some
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sense of real excitement was when our teacher would stop at the end of the day and she would read from the odyssey, a text version, not the poetry version. this was an elementary school. for those few minutes she would read i was lifted away, taken away, no longer battling factions and gramar. i was on that boat with ulysses as he makes his way through the seas over that long period, and so for me, mythology was always a fascinating subject that i read as a great -- a great deal of as a child. i was as interested as the greeks for their myths as i was when they talked to us about greeks and democracy. so, that was part of my education, and what it said to me is that this is really about stories.
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people, human beings, have been killing each other, stories, for thousands of years, and story is so important, and i think that the greatest historians, many of the greatest historians -- some historians i admire, certainly, are great story-tellers. we can tell true stories 'don't have to make them up. obviously myths were created as sacred stories to explain the world around people -- to people who didn't understand the world in a scientific way. but it's remarkable to see how so many of these stories that enthralled me as a child, keep getting recycled and reused and reinvented and put in new costumes. there's a great story about a boy whose parents are either gone or he's orphaned or his parents disappear but he learns that he has great powers. eventually he learns to fly. he has to set out to correct the
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world's ills and fight evil, and you can call that hercules or you can call it moses or you can call it superman or harry potter or luke skywalker, these are stories we keep recycling and that's been a tremendous source of fascination to me. and i do see that sense of tedium going back to your first point, when i'm in school, and one of the things i've really enjoyed in the past few years is making many more school visits, particularly in the last year and a half i have been visiting some of the great schools around the country via skype. it's wonderful. i go into rural alabama or north dakota or pennsylvania, inner city brooklyn via the internet, and i'm able to talk to kids about what is on their minds, and what i find -- and the saddest thing i see is this tremendous excitement and
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enthusiasm, curiosity, for history, from so many of these kids, and really, really dedicated teachers trying to keep that curiosity alive, but we get so bogged down in the testing and the standardized testing, that we sometimes do tamp down or even kill that sense of curiosity. >> host: first call for kenneth davis from mill hall, pennsylvania, lawrence, you're on the air. go made. >> host: lawrence, you with us? and we're going to move on to jeffrey in georgia. jeffrey, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i was calling, talking about the american history book. i had read it, and i am a college student who is planning on being a teacher, and one of the things noticed in any classrooms, the kids are more excited about history, and i was calling to find out what he think it's going to take for kids to be more excited about
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history when it's so fascinating, but as you just said, the standardized testing is just -- it takes control over the kids wanting to learn. >> guest: it's a really important and very, very good question. thank you for calling. again, i've seen what is going nonschools around the country in the past year and a half. certainly -- elementary to high school. and i see this -- contrary to what might be some improgress -- that kids are really interested in history, especially in fifth and sixth grade. they want to show what they know, prove what they know. they've read it. the teachers are teaching it to them. and then between homer moans and standardized testing kicking in, by ninth and tenth agreed, some of the passion and are doctor for history disappears, and we
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also have to make sure we teach kid why this does matter. i hear that, what does this stuff that happened 50 years ago or 150 years ago have to do with me? i think that one of the -- i talked about going to places and feeling history. and that's certainly part of it. the other part is that we have to remember that talking about history is always talking about stories, always talking about what real people do. we do get overwhelmed sometimes by talking about what the president does and what the kings and generals do, and that history is vary often much more about what the average person does. and that certainly something i tried to do in don't know much about history, address the people who are left out of my school books. women, african-americans, native americans were certainly not in the textbooks i grew up with in the early 1960s and '70s. so, stories, real places, making
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the connection between what happened 50 years ago and today. obviously we're in the midst of an election. there are so many extraordinary connections, i think, between what happened as they crated -- created the presidency and some of the extraordinary races in the past that apply to today. i was re-reading the story of 1936, an extraordinary election, franklin d. roosevelt running after his first term. the country in the midst of the depression. people still really reeling from the impact of the depression. the new deal programs he had put in were already controversial. they hadn't truly alleviated the worst of the unemployment, yet. i was up around 17%. we're talking about up employment 8%. it was 17% then and probably that's a mistaken estimate. and roosevelt talked about the
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fact that organized money was against him. and he said, they hated him and he said, i welcome their hatred. and it's so interesting to me to be able to say to kids that the thing that we're fighting about today in this election, we fought about in 1936, and if you go back even farther you can find more examples. 1912 theodore roosevelt talked about the money in elections. so we've been having the same arguments over and over and over again. this is mythology tells the same storiment we have a lot of the same fights in american history and when you put it in the context and the character of some of these really extraordinary people who who were behind the stories, that makes it interesting and compelling to kids. >> host: in 1998, don't know much about the bible came out. kenneth davis writes: underlying the "don't know much about" series is the notion that school doesn't end when we leave
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the classroom. i believe it is crucial for people to question the easy assumptions they grow up with about religion, history, or a ford versus a chevy and if your unable to get in through the phone lines, you can contact us series ya social media. facebook, twitter, or e-mail are all available. we'll put that screen up for you, so if you want to contact us that way go ahead, and we'll take the next call from j.d. in toledo, ohio. hi. >> caller: hello, and thanks for taking my call. mr. davis, i have two succinct questions. one, how too you derive that columbus found 100 million inhabitantses of the new world? and, two, in columbus laws it indicates he saw mermaids at one
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point in his journeys. >> guest: there's a great wide disparity in the estimates, obviously, of how many -- when i say who columbus discovered, obviously i'm talking about who were on two entire continentses when he arrived in the new world. columbus certainly never saw all those people. i didn't mean to suggest that. but that is the range of estimates from a low and this is increased greatly in the past few years, how many people occupied these two continentses in 1492 when columbus arrived. so that's where that derives from. the question of the mermaids, this has been around for a great many years. when people saw things like man -- man tees or dolphins and sailors too long at sea and not
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seeing perfectly and letting the imagination filter into this, that's where columbus may have come up with the mermaids idea. reminds me, for instance, something i also discussed the don't know much about geography, that the first spanish explorer of what became known as the amazon river, saw a tribe of people who were expert archers and had very long hair, and he presumed these were the so-called amazons of greek mythology, thence he river gets its name. so imagination and what we bring to the thing that we're discovering certainly can impact our impressions and what then becomes part of the language. >> host: anything about mermaids? >> guest: again, i think specifically -- i don't know if columbus saw man -- manty ees or
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dolphins or something natural would have given many mariners for hundreds of thousands of years had come up with stories s of seeing fantastical creatures. >> host: i apologize, that was very inarticulate. did the word mermaid ever appear in columbus' log? >> guest: i can't vouch for that so i'm going to did he ever the caller. if he said that -- i don't have a recollection of mermaids but it would be entire by possible. >> host: james in san jose, california, you're an with author kenneth davis. please go ahead. >> caller: thank you, gentlemen. good morning, mr. davis. mr. davis, you mentioned columbus discovering the new world. but i read many years that the vikings were here on the east coast, and before then came navigators from ireland. do you have any historical
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information? >> guest: sure. i addressed both of those questions in meant to much about geography. one is more easily answered than the other. certainly the vikings were -- when i say here, in north america -- around close to 500 years before columbus arrived. the site of the vikings village that they left behind, has been excavated. it is now a unesco world heritage site in newfoundland. so the connection to columbus was the idea that there was perhaps some way columbus knew about the vikings sailed here. there was a map that was proved 0 to be a fraud that was something columbus had. so there is no evidence that columbus knew about the vikings or their root to north america,
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and he certainly came entirely different way. certainly didn't follow the vikings' course. brendan and the sailing the irish -- much more in the realm of legend. there is no evidence to justify that. it really does sit more in the realm of the old wife's tale. >> host: kenneth, in your most recent, don't know much about american presidents, 600 pages or so you give grades to each of the presidents. are those your assessments? >> guest: they are my assessments after what i did was study the views of presidents by historians and academics from the very first one back in he 1960s, up until very recently with such things that's wall street journal and c-span is very excellent surveys of presidential schorl -- scholars.
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so i tried to map how the presidents had been viewed throughout history. bring to bear some of my own criteria, which include the idea that presidents have to be judged in part on how they responded to what was going on in the country around them. so, for instance, presidents who faced great crisis, we have to judge them perhaps slightly differently than presidents who were in charge during times of relative peace and prosperity, and that's why we put abraham lincoln and franklin d. roosevelt at the top of most historical lits, -- list skis gave four presidents what i considered an a-plus grade. i didn't try to rank them knew marry clay. how do you distinguish between 26 and 27. really trying to group them more in the way of a class. don't use a bell curve or anything like that, but certainly looking at the 43 men
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who have become president, i deemed that four of them are what i call a-plus presidents, and another six or seven would be a presidents, and then down to kev -- several f's and some incompletes, those who did not serve a full term because of assassination or debt, or in the case of barack obama, i did not file i was fair to judge him over the long course of history based on less than a full term. >> host: two of your more recent books-american history and nation rising. is it fair to say that george washington sometimes maybe we don't learn the full story about george washington? >> guest: we absolutely don't learn the full story about george washington, and one of the reasons i wrote america's hidden history and a nation
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rising-was to tell those stories the schoolbooks do leave out, and particularly about washington. most americans unfortunately still have the cherry tree story in mind when they think of young washington. the story is completely manufactured by a man who didn't know washington and made these stories up as a kind of reader for children, couched morality tales in terms of washington's life. so the cherry tree story we can dismiss. but unfortunately every president's day we'll see the actors come out with an axe on their shoulder and they're going to chop down the prices on cars, and so that's stereo type gets perpetuated. most people never hear the story of the do -- the true story of going out into the virginia wilderness, when he was a teenager, with some men who were very important in his life, his first surveying expedition, if you well, and he writes about
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laying down next to a fire one night, his first night out in the woods, and first undresses, strips down and lays on some mattresses they put out, and in the middle of the night wakes up and is being eaten alive by bedbugs. puts his clothes back on and decides to sleep next the fire like the other more veteran men who were with them. that story is a lot more interesting and instructive without washington and phony stories about cherry trees. more important, most americans never hear the story of washington in his first real role as a military leader. 22 years old. untested. leads a group of virginia militia men into what was then called the ohio wilderness. not far from what is now pittsburgh. his men, including a group of native american allies who were with him, attack a french unit. massacre them. washington was unable to stop the massacre. and then make a hasty retreat.
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a french army then follows washington in revenge, attempting to track those virginiaans down. washington throws together a small rectangular fort that is called fort necessity, and on july 4th, ironically, 22 years before 1776, he signs a paper that is a surrender at fort necessity. and in that paper, the terms of the surrender -- the first and only time he surrendered in his career, by the way -- include sort of an admission of having murdered a french diplomat. that incident leads to spark the seven years war, known here in america as the french and indian war. an episode most americans never heard of. a wonderful episode in terms of talking about the shaping of the young washington. he sees war at its absolute worst, both the deaths during
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the french and indian war, plus the politics of it, and that so shaped him and so spoke to what he experienced when he would command the revolution, that it's too bad we don't learn more about it. and it's one of those chapters in what i call america's hidden history that i tried to tell in this book. >> host: eric in anderson, california, please go ahead with your question or comment for kenneth davis. >> caller: hi. my question is in reference to don't know much about the civil war, and just after the war you mentioned how the southern states were broken down into i think ten districts and each district was assigned a general, and they were like essentially the dictator of the area. so the district was reabsorbed into the union. my question is, how did their decisions and things -- how did they affect presidential politics at that time and were any of them poignant? >> guest: well, that's a very
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good question. it's one of those areas that we don't spend a lot of attention -- time and attention on in school. what you're talking about is the era known as reconstruction. of course, abraham lincoln had been assassinated. his replacement was andrew johnson, and this was really an issue that affected johnson and a couple of his successors, most significantly. congress at that time was mostly dominated by the so-called radical republicans. they had a very, very specific idea for how states should be readmitted to the union and, yes, the caller is absolutely correctment these were military districts and each state could only return to the union in full and be accorded the rights if they admit certain obligations including the obligation to ratify the 13th and 14th 14th amendments. so that was part of the deal so
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to speak. johnson -- andrew johnson was very, very reluctant to do some of these things. he saw his natural -- although he had been named by abraham lincoln as his vice president in a hope to create a unity of feeling in the country at the time -- andrew johnson was a southern democrat. one of the few southern democrats who remained loyal the union, and lincoln brought him in, in the hopes of shoring up support among democrats who were still loyal the union. but andrew johnson and the congress at the time did not see things in the same light, and this is the reason a very, very political reason, that andrew johnson is ultimately impeached but acquitted in the senate. over a separate issue entirely. the conduct of his dealings with secretary of war at the time.
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so, the politics of the time were very, very powerful, but gradually these states are brought back into the union. it's only with the election of 1876 -- i'm going to -- sometimes we all forget our dates -- that this reconstruction period falls apart when there's a contested election. this is the tillden election with hays e haase in which there were contested electors in several states and the committee assigned to determine who gets those electors gave them to hayes, hayes basically said he would with draw the federal troops, bringing to an end the period of federal reconstruction and armed reconstruction in the southern states. >> host: kenneth davis, patricia comments on facebook. you are so much fun to listen to
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i read greek and norse mythology when i was a kid in the 50s. it led to so much more. are those logs of christopher columbus available to the general public? never heard that they existed. >> guest: oh, yes, they're available, and certainly i think in the aftermath of the 500th 500th anniversary, many more versions are available. now at least two trade books that reproduced columbus' logs. there's also been a number of much more recent biographies of columbus that address this whole period. >> host: next call comes from margie in san diego. hi, margie. margie? >> caller: good to be here and listen to kenneth davis. i have brought my first book in an airport in nashville, 1994, on my way to santiago, chile. i love geography as a child, and
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i just want to think this -- i have five of his books since then and i want to thank you, totally, for writing these wonderful books. i've always loved learning. i'm an elderly lady now but i still want to always learn. thank you, thank you, mr. davis. >> guest: well, don't know if you can see the blushing here. it's not visibly blushing, then audibly blushing. thank you very much. i want to speak the last comment she made about being an older person and learning. one of the things i have written about many times, and feel strongly about, is this idea that we go through high school and or college and that's it. that that's our learning. i believe in life-long learning. i believe we learn for the rest of our lives and i think you're seeing this play out in the technology age that we're in,
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with the explosion of online courses. people are hungry to learn. people are hungry to improve their knowledge. not just for getting ahead careerwise but to understand the thing that so many of us feel that we missed out in high school, because maybe they didn't spend enough time on it or they did have a lousy teacher. i speak to a great many really, really dedicated teachers, especially in the social studies area. so i'm not dumping on teachers. i believe we ask them to do a next to impossible job and we don't give them very good tools to do it. but on the other hand i've heard from far, far too many people who just got turned off by that one bad teacher, whether it's in history or biology or any subject. now they're rediscovering it. so that's one of i think the real audiences i've always tried to speak to people who feel that we are in a constant process of learning, and life-long learning
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and the learning should go on forever. >> host: kenneth davis, using your don't know much about civil war, about the civil war as a guide, how do you organize your books? >> guest: well, that one is pretty simple. i organize nit chronological order as i did don't know much about history. and for that matter don't know much about the american presidents. pretty easy when you have a starting point to go from, from a to b. so the books that are specifically historically -- historic in nature, history, civil war, and the american presidents now, are very much chronological. the other books are a little bit more -- i don't know -- quirky, i suppose. how do you start talking about geography? well in that sense i did standard by talking about the history of the idea of geography. how do we know what we know about the world? who started asking these questions? and it's always astonishing to
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me to look back at how ancient people made these very, very extraordinary discoveries. i talk about the librarian in alex dry ya egypt, for instance, who roughly measured the world with not much more than a calendar and the sun and a big stick in the ground... ...
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>> on the other hand, the texas state books are of controversy they spend more erred time talking about jefferson davis bid thomas jefferson borough talking about school books specifically they're determined in different states and they have rules what they could and should
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say. i am not a textbook writer or critic. there is a problem. i grew up with books that did not have the non-white to european model. i was trying to address the under representation. in recent years there is a sense not including the asians and hispanic americans. one of the things when i wrote my book america is a hidden history talking about spanish america talk about columbus but the spanish in
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the united states of america of this is what i thought was an extraordinary story not told to me. the first pilgrims. there were not englishmen sailing over on the mayflower but they were french. they have a good sense to go to florida in june and sale 50 years before the mayflower. they were protestants escaping the same strife and persecution in france that the pilgrims would escape but they are nowhere mentioned in my books. they founded fort caroline which is now jacksonville, florida. one year later they were surviving and planning to stay there when the spanish
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king sen did admiral over because he wanted to be rid of the protestant pirates that were camped out on florida. that is house aide to augustine was founded. a few drives 17 miles south you find another historical site where the french protestants were slaughtered by the spanish to founded st. augustine. why? because there were french but mostly protestant. the first encounter between europeans that became the united states of america and did in a religious blood glass. -- bloodbath it was left out of my school books are to make.
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and i went to a historic site in a florida around this time and it was at recreated spanish mission village people in period dress explaining but the chronology was on the wall. in such and such per year the french were banished cry had to seek out the officer what do mean? they were murdered. she said we are not allowed to say that. that is why history is sanitized, the bedtime version as if we have to protect small children from the idea throughout history sometimes people kill each other over religion. that is what historians are up against.
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>> host: the next call comes from four lauderdale florida. >> caller: mr. davis, figure very much pricey at least six books i have to go get. to bring up one observation you growing up a and your family taking the trips for the first in the industry to have a similar upbringing that my family came from the york metropolitan area my dad there was a macarthur on the weekend and it had the same effect on me as telling
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world war ii debentures leading me to read every book on world war ii and him putting up a map of the world on my desk and then i knew every capital of every population of every city. my comment is i find what is lacking today from and adults and college students the lack of history knowledge or lack of interest the teachers play a big part but it has to i know in my case it was my father but no plan to a uber
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world that was my passion american history, world history to talk to students today do not knowing the history that seems to be such a tragedy not to make any informed decisions. a lot of that sparc has to come home and to show the interest i learned more at the dinner table from junior high and high school. at but it is a pleasure to see you and hear you.
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now there are six books i have to get. thank you very much for listening. >> guest: thank you peter. and the call. there was a lot to digest but first, i think you use the word tragic ignorance of history is not only sad dangerous. when it is coopted for people who use it for their specific purposes it is dangerous leading to demagoguery. it inoculates us again things that are not true. you're absolutely right parents have to be the motivating force.
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teachers are great. i work with them all the time going into classrooms around the country through skype sessions there are 72 a passionate and dedicated teachers who want to do what you are saying and perhaps preaching to the choir but it always works best when parents and teachers are working together. lowe's day there is nothing better the -- great then to have interested parents kids volunteering in the classroom. if we are to be serious, i am not of the education reform movement i wanted to
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good education for everyone, but if we are truly concerned about education, it better be more than a service and we should pay attention to our teachers who get dumped on all the time but the teachers that i know are dedicated servants who want their children and students to do well to move forward and the best solution is what the caller said. to make our homes learned in fireman's the best thing to do is turn up the tv ad disconnect the x box. talk about field trips they
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think is so boring to go to historic house is. so many the presidential sites have come so far from where they were from 10 years ago. more interactive and bells and whistles and family friendly. you cannot go down to mount peel year or monticello to not seek to expand the story to involve families and kids that is part of the learning experience and it makes it more fun. it is a good day and learning does not have to be
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the four-letter word. >> host: to contact kenneth davis here are the social media addresses. >> caller: i am a retired college english professor. concerning your "dont know much about headed history of america" could you comment on the history surrounding
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the industrial product did you know, the declaration of independence and constitution were written on paper? >> guest: i have heard this many times and george washington was mentioned to a proponent of growing hemp then became more controversial product in past times but it did have a small but interesting role but i am not sure beyond that what i could add. >> host: to ask after the previous caller what did your parents do? >> guest: i am very much a product of blue-collar parents. my father was a truck
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driver, world war ii veteran surveying and italy and africa are driving trucks through the quarter master and he was in some ways a victim of progress. he would deliver bread and pious before supermarkets then he drove a truck and it often when out with him on spring break vacation to mou delivered diapers which also been speaking of the other end. that is an industry then he fell back down to pampers and huggies. technology and innovation are double-edged swords. he was a hard-working truck driver. i lived in a house with my
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extended family and she took care of my grandmother and at night work data and office in town for sears roebuck. blue-collar parents and i consider myself and how each generation can do something better. in each successive generation has always done better them the first. they would provide it over reading i amass the importance of the library of american in society a year of democracy. there are often the first to
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feel the acts of the budget patter. growing up in melbourne a beautiful andrew carnegie library that was a temple to reading and research i remember the days clearly to get my adult library card to go from the children's room up the marble stairway to the adult room that felt like a greek temple but was magnificent the true library of the elegant old sense of the word. i remember getting books from that library acetate -- teen-ager that transformed my eighth use. the jungle from upton sinclair. this summer of 1968 when i
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was 14 years old. the library and public library, we did not have a bookstore. there did not use to be a bookstore or amazon. it was an absolute lifeline. may have of book mobile to go once or twice a week. those experiences not only made me a reader but also a writer. the public library is not a luxury but of necessity certainly with the digital divide people get computer access that of the book wiry terminal.
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many people do not have access yet and depend on the public library. that is my servant of the importance of the library and a functioning democracy. >> host: next call comes from florida. >> caller: it is very nice to talk to you, mr. davis. i have read a couple of your books. you have work to get a lot of books available and audio. talk about the need to understand why history is relevant, hw break -- hw brands appeared if you look back prior to the civil war
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and now you are geographically divided with one part of the country represented by one part or another. and you talk about that to be a more industrialized society. says b.c. people start to move to places where they are comfortable it is a time to where you have that. politicians need to cater to the extremes handed is harder to build consensus. if i am of democrat or republican i have to cater to them.
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it is harder to get things done. i will hang up and i will take my answer off the air to one thank you very much. i am not sure the specific question but the peace reference to and the last 10-- that the geography of red state's first is blue states. i posted it on my facebook page. it did talk about how the country has been solidified one is done in the east coast and then the middle is different with pockets. it is a fascinating piece the a great north-south
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divide that has largely disappeared because of the enormous movement of people from the northeast to the sunbelt. misspeaks to something we have not touched on at all with is the dreaded the electoral college. the sound of them the way it is constituted it really does exacerbate so we do get some attention whether campaign or advertising.
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we may see the breakdown of the stark regional differences. i don't see the end to the electrical -- electoral college anytime soon. we all look at the ticker how many votes from which states and there is no questions in schools the electoral college is that every student wants to know about first. why can't we just elect the president? the question many americans share. >> host: kenneth davis is our guest writing over one dozen books. here they are.
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do bit culture then the don't know much series. don't know much about geography, 1982, this a war war, >> host: i noticed that you switch to publishers. harper was yours for a long time. >> guest: yes. just from the publishing business. my editor from my earlier
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books that was published by harpercollins combat editor left and went to hyperion's so i even jolie followed. >> how do describe your writing process? >> guest: i don't think about it. the great sports writer smith said it is easy dissed open up a vain but my process is a period of intense research where i formulate the overall picture talk about "dont know much about a president's it is circumscribed that book will be a talk about the history of the office go through the 43 men who held the office
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and concludes with the section about where we go from here. what do redo specifically sometimes those questions lead to more questions. and to engender more curiosity. first on the research then formulating to bring together a scenario of what the book will include. as i go through that process to go down and a path. that is the "dont know much about history that i did hidden history the two books outside the serious or the outgrowth mr. rezaiyeh
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wanted to tell where bigger and wanted to open and a brief. it is pretty linear. i have a lot of books piled up on my floor. i can work on something and have five 4/6 from books opened i do most of my research and reference from secondary sources also because of the internet to primary sources are so much more available. you can access every presidential archive in the way that few researchers could as a researcher.
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and as i said earlier it is the unexpected discoveries. what i wasn't looking for that intrigue to me. >> host: karen, you are on booktv with kenneth davis. >> caller: good afternoon. i have been away from booktv the from far too long. we could talk for hours. similar to the lady that wrote to she was elderly and the fellow from four lauderdale who believes history should be at the dinner table and discuss with parents and it is not hard there. it is a joy.
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mentioning the andrew carnegie library, i live in north andover massachusetts founded by a allayed the founded by a a mistress bradstreet born 400 years ago. of i'd like to ask if you would never considered doing a book called "dont know much about poetry was the first english poet there may have been spanish before hers but hers was 1650 it was called andover. we gave our name away to the southern part of the town in 1855. this second question, i have an idea to have a
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conversation about history, a like to have bus the rise of disaster capitalism" -- tour to take people through one town very heavily history or adjacent to each other to do a study in the merrimack valley if you grew gold valley of the poets you would read about that. do you think that is said good idea to enjoy a at a conversation with many different people. i believe we will learn so much. >> guest: thank you for the call per cry actually the call per cry actually did write a book "dont know much about literature one of the of fun books on this side with my very capable
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and smart daughter jenny davis. those two things have always gone together this the fund accessible book i am familiar with a and bradstreet and i asked quick quizzes about first titles in one respect but to the bigger point* we often teach history and one hour and obviously i believe all subjects are best learned when put together. with the cannot discuss one
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without the other. how can you do when not wall been or ever said no. arrow? there is no separation between history and literature and politics in the 19th century. i applaud the effort. >> host: you are on with off 39. >> caller: i got sidetracked with the phone calls. your experience would not be possible today without the mistake of political correctness and the shift of the school teachers being a voting bloc one-party has six -- change that experience for a lot of us. you can see the schools
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shift that condemn but through the ages is there the agenda? to see a lot of attention paid to the muslim culture of which i did not think we had any but going to eastern north dakota but muslims are imported with list it -- with lutheran social services with the current administration. they provide nothing to the community except diversity which is supposed to be there calling card.
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>> guest: to the last part i have no knowledge. i cannot comment. but in the beginning comment, even though even though i don't spend time reading schoolbooks there is literature diane and others but my primary concern one but -- group as opposed to the other right to make sure the history is not turned off a and from personal experience i do not see the teachers abide deal with and through skype and a twitter
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almost on a daily basis. collections who are devoted to the subjects they are teaching through social studies are english chats, groups of teachers who get together at their own expense to share resources, ideas for improving their classrooms. i and a stand the politicalization but i can only speak to the fact to those whose concern is not politics but the kid sitting in their classrooms. >> host: pennsylvania go ahead. >> caller: mr. davis, a big fan.
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>> my question is i am of 30 years teacher you're right about standardized testing it is like we weigh the cows everyday as opposed to feeding them a far was a rancher. to be men of the time when you hear about the controversial things with columbus, jefferson you may hear they were bet of the times. i will listen to your answer >> i ain't i like that line i will probably borrow that to weigh the cattle instead of feeding it. thank you for being a teacher. and not think there is a
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more important job or a less valued job but that is an interesting line and then of the times i have contended write to bahama the take yearly e the founding fathers. with the presidency it is the untold story we don't talk about. thomas jefferson and kept slaves they talk about equally fighting for freedom ago back to plantations dependent upon human beings that they don't. both were uncomfortable with slavery they were men of their time but look at
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what's agreed tiptoe about is the electoral college. when the deal was introduced it was a compromise election of the people which the framers thought they thought were one step from logroll and from congress. those with the two choices that first. that produces day compromise not the people were the legislature but elect doors who are informed at least that is what demint in theory. who are they? that is left up to the states but how many is the question and to confront remember six grade civics come and how many people are
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in the congress? that would determine how many elective hours. the key issue is who will you count? the 1 million people who then servitude? that was a sticking point* salant -- settled as counting the slaves as 3/5 of a percent which also many elective hours. the key issue is who will you count? the 1 million people who then servitude? that was a sticking point* salant -- settled as counting the slaves as 3/5 of a percent which also gave the number of electors each state has. that is why four out of five presidents are slaveholders from virginia but the first five out of seven are slaveholders most before this overt -- civil war had slaves or sympathetic this was the essence of slave power and what it meant before the civil war.
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most chief justices were slaveholders, speakers of the house, most of senate majority leader's. it was built into the system from the beginning with a key part of political power being debated. george washington of course, he was elected and was a slaveholder. he had misgivings and treated them well but he did bring them to new york when he was inaugurated and took them to philadelphia. pennsylvania at the time had the lot of the slave was in the state more than six months they were emancipated washington had to move his slaves back-and-forth to keep them from being emancipated even though this was against pennsylvania state law. that is the side of the
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story we don't hear. a man of his time to go up to boston sees there are black men with guns he stops that and eventually changes his mind when he needed more bodies and the army. they are not simple black and white issues. yes a man of his time and part of the society dependent upon slavery and he knew he would not change the minds of the fellows slaveholders or that he had. wipeout -- point* to the founding fathers with adoration but clearly they
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did not see the great conflagration that is coming kenneth davis kenneth davis is this month's guest on the tv. every author we ask questions and we will show you those now. we haven't hour-and-a-half and we will be back. is this month's guest on the tv. every author we ask questions and we will show you those now. we haven't hour-and-a-half and we will be back.
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>> host: we're back live with kenneth davis author and historian in new york city. this is booktv on c-span 2. when it comes to your career you give credit to do joanne davis. >> guest: that is my wife. she is not like me to tell list tory but unfortunately she will have to this one. halfway through college dollar was a classic liberal
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arts kid i did not know what i was doing and decided to drop out of college and work in a bookstore. to that point* a was a great reader and very interested in history but the notion that i could be a writer never occurred to me just like an astronaut or rocket scientist or neurosurgeon. i did think i might be a teacher. working in a bookstore i remember very clearly the day this woman i worked with read this stuff i was riding in college, class work and the newspaper and honestly said you're wasting your time selling books. you should be writing them. she was so smart i married
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her. ben a few years later encourage me and my writing career. she went to work as a magazine editor and i got my first assignment with caris assistance. then eventually she said you love the american history, why don't you write about it? that was the beginning of "dont know much about history. no grand scheme for a series of books. i have been very lucky. it is an accident because locke is of design but my wife courage my riding and has always been my first reader and editor and most demanding as well. but all my success might go to the woman behind the
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throne. >> host: one hour and 15 minutes left with our guest. "dont know much about.com is the website. oklahoma at, you have been patient. >> caller: mr. davis mr. davis, thank you for your writing and it is a daughter to speak with you. what you have said resonates with me, the excitement of learning the unquenchable thirst and to give a point*
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of personal privilege, share with us 98 century american history, identifier 12 people that you do about it once you started to read about, what a fascinating life you felt compelled to learn more. >> guest: what a great question. the first one is the first presidential candidate of the republican party if they miss as any man now largely forgotten john c. fremont. what a fascinating story. his father was from canada. came to virginia. his parents a low whether he
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was born illegitimate is of question. he goes through life to become an army surveyor very brilliant and becomes the pathfinder who maps the way west from south -- st. louis to california. three different experiences and he himself below with his bride jesse. she was the daughter of the most powerful man from the senator of missouri. if they had "people" magazine they would be the kate middle 10 and prints of their time handsome, dashing, a beautiful, adventuress and
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did extraordinary things together and separately. he has been overlooked. the opening of the west is largely due in part to to the role played from john c. fremont and his wife jesse. then became the first republican candidate for president 1856 and lost the election because he was accused of being born and can adapt. the bursar question first belongs to him claiming he was born in canada her . he was also accused of being half white this speakes told period when america was not a christian nation by
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protestant catholics were the most fears it -- beard it -- beard, i despised and discriminated group so being called a catholic in 1856 conveyed you were dangerous you would turn the country over to the pope. this is what the people believed. i tell the story of fremont and his wife in one of my books because i do think he is an over looked character of that period. and early abolitionist that was his appeal to the republican party he tried to emancipate the slaves before
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abraham lincoln was ready and abraham lincoln did dismiss him. >> host: then "dont know much about history anniversary edition you cover voodoo economics, culture has come alexander hamilton, also the wickes and republican party. what happened to the whig party? >> it is interesting to see the evolution since the presidency was invented when we look back of founders starting with washington they wrote about it. washington gives his pharaoh address to say be aware of the baneful effects of party. james madison wrote against
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parties of "the federalist papers." his argument for the ratification of the constitution. these men talk dropout dangerous the parties are more along really -- religion verses philosophical but they did not see this coming. 1796 blinder drawn. john adams and hamilton very, very shaky allies to a person leaves the democratic republicans. later the democrats were so dominant by a the time john quincy adams becomes president he is a democrat leaving the federal list
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party that is dead. then is the rise of andrew jackson and it was a single party but there were those who were opposed to jackson that became the essence of the whigs party nonpolitical but anti-jackson. henry clay perhaps to talk about forgotten people he is not forgotten but overlooked because he did become president the most prominent american of his time. there was a pamphlet produced, talking about scandal and elections, 21 reasons why henry clay should not be elected.
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number two, he spends days at the gaming tables and the nights at the brothel. to think that was more gentlemanly can look at the 21 reasons so of the. >> host: demerged as anti-jackson with the slavery issue increases the whigs breaks down and merge with the republican party founded 1850's. >> host: any mail from north dakota,
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>> guest: a really interesting question and the bits of the constitution most americans have not read. it goes back to the sensibility to the drafting of the constitution. we spoke about earlier but to recap, those gathered in philadelphia 1787, some of the men were the same, they feared a monarchy. the wanted nothing of the british monarch the including aristocratic titles. face at the age limit for
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president at 35 they felt somebody would have to establish his own credentials not just to be his famous father's son. they had to contend with the problem even though it was the least of the founding fathers. they cared about this very deeply they did not with the presidency to become the elected monarchy as they debated the powers of the presidency. george washington was celebrated by a group a society called -- that formed around a group of
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former officers. washington was asked to be a part of the group. he was very skittish because the membership would be passed on from father to son and felt that was problematic. the complication is that the society met at the same time as the constitutional convention. washington davidoff the society meeting he had to explain how he could go to the constitutional convention he duds and presides becomes the first president. . .
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